If you’ve ever done a Pilates class before, you’ll know what I mean when I talk about that deep inner core shake you get mid-class. For me, there’s nothing like it, and unlike HIIT training, or heading out for a run, Pilates doesn’t leave me sweating buckets, but the small, simple movements burn and sculpt my muscles like nothing else.
Pilates is similar to yoga in that you focus on your breathing during class, making you think about when you breathe in, and when you breathe out. Like yoga, I find a 30-minute Pilates class restorative for my mental health, as well as my physical health, but don’t go into this workout thinking you’re going to torch calories (although, remember, burning calories shouldn’t be the main motivation behind every workout you do).
If you’re looking for more workout inspiration, I’ve found some of the best ab workouts that are completely free and can be done from just about anywhere here. I’ve also found 8 of the best Pilates exercises that target your core for the ultimate burn here.
All you’ll need for this workout is your body weight, but it also helps to have an exercise mat to support your spine when you’re lying on the floor. We’ve found some of the best yoga mats that double as exercise mats here.
What is the Move With Nicole Pilates workout?
This workout moves quickly, as Nicole takes you through a quick warm-up, before getting into the Pilates session. After each of the more intense exercises, Nicole takes you through some restorative yoga poses, like Child’s Pose, to stretch the body. Not sure what to expect? Here are a few of the exercises featured in the class:
Glute bridge hold: After doing a set of glute bridges, you’ll hold the bridge and raise up onto your tip-toes. This exercise targets the lower body, but you’ll also need to activate your core to stay up in the position. Nicole will then instruct you to open and close your knees out to the side to build on the intensity of the exercise.
Bicycles: To do a bicycle crunch, lie on the floor with your back flat against the ground. Place your hands next to your head and raise your shoulders up and away from the mat. Bend your knees and draw your legs up off the ground into a tabletop position. Bring the right knee towards your chest as you straighten your left leg, as your right knee comes up, twist your body so your left elbow touches your right knee. Repeat on the other side. Nicole moves slowly from side to side, keeping her toes pointed as she stretches the leg out.
Single leg lifts: Lying on your side, straighten your legs and point your toes, engaging your core, and keeping your hips stacked on top of one another. Lifting your legs up and away from the mat, slowly raise your top leg up, pausing at the top. Keep the bottom leg straightened and lifted.
Squat pulses: Did I mention this is a full-body workout? Nicole gets into a traditional yoga chair pose, with the knees bent and the arms extended overhead. From here, she pulses up and down into a squat — this one comes at the end of the class and is a killer.
I tried the 30-minute Move With Nicole Pilates workout — here’s what happened
I’ll start by saying, I’m not new to Pilates, but if you are, this workout is a brilliant introduction to what a mat Pilates class is all about. It’s fun, it’s fast, and there are plenty of breathers to stop and regather yourself when things get too intense. Nicole speaks throughout the class, explaining the exercise and counting you down and her form is absolutely perfect, so beginners, you’re in safe hands.
As I mentioned before, for me, Pilates is as much about my mental health as it is about sculpting lean muscles (if you need proof Pilates works, just look at Nicole). This class left me feeling energized and dare I say it, happy, in a way that strength training just doesn’t. As I fitness editor, I believe falling in love with exercise is about finding what works for you — put me in a dark room with neon lights, and I’m stressed before the instructor has started shouting, but this calm sequence is definitely my cup of tea.
Don’t let the calming tones of Nicole’s voice deceive you, however; this sequence left me with that post-Pilates shake. Unlike when I come in from a run, I normally feel great when I get up off the yoga mat after a Pilates class, but a few hours later, the muscle soreness in my glutes, abs, and thighs creeps in. The goal of Pilates is to create the long, lean muscles dancers possess, not build or bulk, but this doesn’t mean you’re not working hard — I definitely felt the shake a few hours after Nicole’s workout.
During January, I feel like the pressure to get fit fast ramps up, and for some, this isn’t all that healthy. I urge everyone to put down the dumbbells, forget the data and the high-speed spin class, and take a second, or 30 minutes to be more precise, to slow things down. You won’t regret it.
Looking for more Pilates inspiration? Read what happened when I did Pilates every day for a month here, plus here's what an hour of Pilates can do for your body, and everything you need to know about Pilates for weight loss.